April 28, 1789. Fletcher Christian leads 11 other crew members of the British navy’s HMS Bounty to stage a mutiny. Captain William Bligh and 18 sailors loyal to him were cast adrift in a seven-metre launch boat. The mutineers are thought to have acted out of a desire to return to Tahiti, where they had been sent on a mission to collect breadfruit plants. Christian had also harboured animosity towards Bligh for several months leading up to the mutiny.
Bligh and those loyal to him completed an epic 6,700 km journey to Timor and eventually returned to England to report the mutiny. Christian and eight other mutineers picked up 17 Tahitian men and women and took them to the uninhabited Pitcairn Island, where they burned the Bounty out of fear of being found by the British navy. Most of the new Pitcairn population was killed in in-fighting. Just one mutineer, John Adam, survived beyond 1800 and he continued to live on Pitcairn with the nine surviving Tahitian women and dozens of children. Descendants of some of the mutineers still live on the island today.
Picture: The mutineers turning Lt. Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from HMS Bounty. Painted by Robert Dodd
Also on April 28: Inauguration of Wembley Stadium, London (1923); Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci executed by Italian Partisans (1945); Charles de Gaulle resigns as French president (1969).
Born on April 28: Oskar Schindler (1908), Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916), Harper Lee (1926), Jay Leno (1950), Penelope Cruz (1974)
Back in the Day: mutiny on the Bounty